Halloween is, if nothing else, an interesting holiday
that people are attracted to it — or repulsed by.
Kids who grew up in Western countries, most
stereotypically the United States, remember dressing up and Trick or Treating
through their neighborhood in order to fill a bag with candy. University
students consider it a great reason to throw a party. Some people gravitate to
the spiritual aspects. Others enjoy the darkness, the death, the horror and the
In any case, Halloween, which is this Thursday, is rarely
boring. It is a day when you can let your loose. Put on a costume. Mask your
true self. Escape your buttoned up personality. Revel with friends. And experience
a new point of view.
Like Regina George says in “Mean Girls”, the classic
teenage movie from 2004: “In the real world, Halloween is when kids dress
up in costumes and beg for candy. In Girl World, Halloween is the one day a
year when a girl can dress up like a total slut and no other girls can say
anything else about it.”
Brno, and the Czech Republic in general, have slowly been
incorporating the holiday into its collective consciousness. Supermarkets have
Halloween displays. Radio deejays will talk about it. Halloween-themed
television shows and movies will be shown. Just like how Santa Claus is becoming
a symbol within the local holiday season, Jack-o’-lanterns are becoming more
common in the fall.
I have often had to listen to criticism that Halloween as
just another Americanism. It is, to a point; however, Ireland and the United
Kingdom celebrate it as well, and really, it has pagan roots that go back centuries.
And the other-worldly aspects of the holiday have been
incorporated, in one way or another, into many different traditions around the
world, including here, where it is called dušičky,
or “little souls”. The more official Czech phrase is Památka zesnulých, which means “a remembrance of those who have
passed”. This year, All Soul’s Day, as it is known in English, is on Saturday.
It is when people go to cemeteries, clean the graves of loved ones and light a symbolic
candle. It a somber event that is quite beautiful and moving.
Nevertheless, I do think that English-language learning
is a big reason for the growing influence of Halloween. Every teacher of
English will talk about Halloween next week because it is an English-speaking
holiday and it may come up on a graduation exam. Many preschools and elementary
schools now use the hands-on creativity of carving pumpkins as a staple of
their autumn activities.
Halloween, though, is not just a kid holiday. Adults are
a driving force in its growing popularity because of the fantasy angle. Fléda,
for example, has a huge party planned, which it is calling: The „naughtiest“
Halloween party in Central Europe. There is also a “Horor Circus” that has been
camped out in South Brno for the past week or so. Many people will have smaller
and more private affairs.
The good news is that, unlike cities in the United States,
the Czech Republic has not yet completely bought into the costume aspect of the
holiday. In calling around to a half dozen costume shops in Brno, it is clear
that they are prepared for (and hoping for) an onslaught of people to rent
costumes for Halloween parties. Every year brings a bit more attention but it
has not yet fully taken root. Instead, local costume stores rely mostly on
different events, like company parties; St. Nicholas Day, when people dress as Mikuláš,
the devil and an angel; Masopust, which is the local version of Fat Tuesday of Mardi
Gras and Carnival of Brazil; and theatre performances.
That means that decent costumes can be rented for
Halloween for less than 500 kc.
Ever wanted to be a pirate or a fireman? Now is your
Who am I kidding? Let’s rephrase the question: Ever
wanted to be a Sexy Pirate or a Sexy Fireman or a Sexy ___(fill in the
Halloween gives you a chance to live out your fantasy, at least for one night, even here in Brno.
I hope that this column will provide thought-provoking observations of local life that will be interesting for a Saturday-morning read. If you have any suggestions or comments, please pass them along to email@example.com.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. The publishing of this article does not constitute an endorsement of or any other expression of opinion by the management of Brno Daily.